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Skin Technology: an Organic Matter

Skin Technology: an Organic Matter

Professional Beauty Magazine[Tue 18/11/2008 11:28:15]

When you think of skin care, what comes to mind? A brand name, a range of products? Do you think about your personal skin care needs or products to suit others? Do you think about product formulations or ingredients; their origin, efficacy or toxicity; or is your focus simply on the overall, visible results. So many individual responses to two words; no wonder the 'skin care' business exceeds 260 billion dollars per annum. The question is, says Judith WHite, how many of these products really care for skin?

The Skin
Beauty therapists understand that the skin is the body's largest organ. Depending on the size, shape and age of the body, it can cover approximately 1.8 meters in surface area, encapsulating every molecule of the structure and its underlying function. The skin contains meters of blood vessels, thousands of nerve endings, hundreds of sweat glands and millions of cells. The primary function of the skin is protection; however, every moment of ones life it functions as a living, breathing suit of amour that keeps the vital organs safe inside and to the best of its ability, keeps environmental aggressors outside.

This complex organ eliminates waste, regulates the body's temperature (increasing heat and cooling as required), manufactures vitamins, is responsible for growing millions of hairs and through thousands of sensory nerve endings, will provide warning signals when in danger. Its sensory nature enables copious amounts of either pain or pleasure. Importantly, with regard to this article, it absorbs a minimum of 60 per cent of what we apply onto it.

The obvious question for responsible people and therapists is: "What am I feeding my organs via my skin and, as a therapist, am I contributing to my client's health and wellness when I address their beauty needs?"

What prevents the skin from absorbing more than 60 per cent of applied ingredients? The answer is easy; it all depends on the molecular size of each substance. The good news (or bad news depending on the ingredient) is that modern science and technology enables the molecular reduction of nutrients; vitamins, minerals, herbs, dynamic plant extracts such as essential oils, many of which, without technology, would have once remained surface-dwellers.

Science and technology within the beauty industry for the most part remains focused on the development and expansion of synthetics and chemicals. Why? Because they are inexpensive, reproducible ingredients and the market continues to purchase them.

Fortunately, there are a handful of specialist manufacturers of natural and certified organic products that have put their time energy and money into building a healthier future for us all. For example, it took us eight years and an $8 million investment to develop a world-first in the form of JW Organics intracellular mists; Oxygen, Vitamin C, Copper and Silica, professional facial mists that dramatically activate change in the skin. Their molecular structure ensures rapid absorption of four primary skin enhancing elements.

Intracellular Oxygen:
- Infuses rapidly into the skin
- helps the body to produce new tissues and repair damaged tissues
- is essential for tissue metabolism
- acts as a catalyst for cellular functions within facial tissues

Intracellular Vitamin C:
- infuses into the skin more rapidly than vitamin C creams and serums especially in hot humid environments
- actively enhances the performance of vitamin C creams and serums
- helps produce new collagen and helps with the stimulation of collagen cells
- helps neutralise free radicals which are proven to damage skin tissues
- helps provide protection against photo aging and damage from the sun

Intracellular Copper:
- is designed to increase elastin tensile strength and improve the resilience and the hydration of plump cells within facial tissues
- addresses the major cause of ageing; it assists the skin to stay hydrated

Intracellular Silica:
- is an integral part of healthy skincare
- increased silica uptake can increase collagen production up to 12 per cent
- is crucial to activate hydroxylation enzymes which help with cross-linking collagen fibers. Increased cross-linking collagen fibers helps to increase strength and rigidity of elastin

Time stops for no-one. Just when the beauty industry realised that premium natural and certified organic products are no longer a choice, science stepped in to confirm that even certified organic alone is not enough.

There is absolutely no point in having the best certified organic ingredients listed on a label if the products don't work. My own formulation lab employs collectively more than 200 years of scientific accredited know-how that goes into the creation every single skin and body care formulation. Nature created the plant kingdom to serve all life, including its own, and it takes enormous skill to re-formulate plant and mineral ingredients into specific molecular structures that can be absorbed, utilised and excreted safely, effectively and specifically by the human skin and body.

We are all aware that beauty care professionals are accustomed to making bold promises to their clients, people who are now more than ever before informed, educated, socially and environmentally aware. The people who seek out our services are often stretched for time and require us to deliver results. Spa and salon goers expect a nurturing environment and relaxing experience as part of the super-charged marketing message. The new spa generation understands and appreciates that beauty and health are inseparable; they readily seek out the latest technologies that will satiate their cosmetic desires without compromise to their health. They value credibility which helps them feel confident in choosing elegant, effective organic skin care products that deliver visible change.

So what are some of the ingredients you can expect to find in your skin care and why?

Certified Organic Pure Essential oils
Aromatherapy has finally come of age. It is time to reactivate your aromatic tools. You are professionals and essential oils are the tools of your trade. You can personalise individual treatments with pure, potent plant extracts. Possibly you have been looking for actives in the wrong places; these are 100 times more potent than those you can find within the mix of a crème or lotion.

Science validates the efficacy of high-quality, certified organic and exceptionally pure essential oils. If you want results then choose only those sourced botanically for their therapeutic efficacy, from credible people you trust. The results are phenomenal. Please read the following with a renewed commitment to your craft.

Essential oils penetrate the skin through a process known as diffusion. In contrast to sweating, which is an active, energy-demanding process, the passage of essential oil molecules inwards through the skin occurs quite passively - the skin cells don't actually pump them down into the deeper layers of the skin, they sink in naturally.

How much of an aromatherapy massage blend is diffused? Aside from the molecular structure of your blend it also depends on the colour, quality, function, fat content and percentage of surface area that is being covered. Basically, the more skin you cover with an essential oil, the greater the dose and systemic efficacy. However, some oils will effectively treat conditions in very small amounts.

The innate constitution of essential oils has an amazing affinity with the structure and function of the body; in fact the cellular structure of an essential oil has similar organelles to a human cell. Whether they are inhaled or massaged into the skin, the tiny, active molecules go to work, changing cell activity through physiological and psychological means, assisting the skin and the body to rebalance, repair and renew itself.

Essential oils are originally aromatic cell structures within plant parts. Once extracted, they for the most part form aromatic liquids, each possessing a unique chemical constitution which gives rise to their therapeutic efficacy. Their antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial nature varies in degree from oil to oil.

Essential oils evaporate quickly when exposed to the air - they are soluble in oil and alcohol and only disperse in water - that is why you must agitate them when adding them to a water based method of use (e.g. when preparing an aromatic foot bath pedicure treatment).

Essential oils are much more important than their fragrance; when exceptional quantity essential oils are skillfully blended they remain dynamic, potent catalysts within skin care preparations. When they are first absorbed they scatter and settle in various regions of your body until you begin to metabolise and excrete them; when urinating, sweating and breathing. Although they can take up to four hours to fully enter your body (which is why therapists should advise clients to avoid bathing or showering for four hours after a topical application); they remain in the body for only a few hours, in which time they can trigger sufficient healing processes which can continue into the following days or weeks ahead.

Be sure that your body wash, shampoo and conditioners too, all contain certified organic premium essential oils. Choose from manufacturers who honor all life; we are a part of a closed eco-system - the products that also go down our drains end up in our waterways, they affect the aquatic life and eventually end up back on our plate.

Essential oils dissolve readily into body fat (the more body fat you have the more you'll absorb) and then pass easily into your central nervous system and liver. The brain is very rich in fats, which leads scientists to speculate that fat-soluble molecules such as essential oils will be taken up easily by the brain and remain there for some time - hence the prolonged psychological effects on our thoughts, moods and feelings.

Many essential oil molecules can gain rapid entry to your central nervous system via the blood-brain barrier. This barrier acts as a screen, protecting your brain from many toxic chemicals. Recent studies have shown that various constituents of essential oils penetrate the blood-brain barrier and have fairly significant mood-altering effects. For example, marjoram and lavender have been found to have marked sedative effects.

Once organic essential oils are absorbed into your body a whole range of chemical transformations take place. Your body takes what it needs from the oils and the remainder is transformed into water-soluble molecules and excreted. Our bodies make use of the protective and preventative properties of the oils and marshal their support to help prevent any attack from bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, allergens and toxins. Who would have thought that the simple act of moisturising the skin daily would create such a powerful defense against disease?

Ironically, many essential oils can be deadly to bacteria, and completely non-toxic to the human organism.

The currents of air that you breath carry all aromatic substances (both natural and synthetic) to the olfactory epithelium in your brain. Be careful of your choice for although the area for absorption is some 4000 times smaller than that of the skin, the registration of smells is extremely high. Essential oils used in the spa and salon can help enhance wellness, increase productivity and reduce work error by 60 per cent.

Once the molecules of your blend are inhaled and registered by your brain, they pass down the nasal cavity to the trachea and into the bronchi, and from there into finer bronchioles, completing their journey at the microscopic, sac-like alveoli in your lungs where a gaseous exchange with the blood takes place. Your alveoli are extremely efficient at transporting small molecules, such as essential oil constituents, into your blood and to other parts of your body, they have a eu-biotic (life promoting) effect which in turn helps to improve your health or your body and mind.

It makes you wonder doesn't it. If just one essential oil (or a combination of several) can have such a profound effect then what effect are all the other ingredients having, both individually and collectively? Scientists are now alarmed that parts of Australia's Great Barrier Reef are dying. They believe that it is the untested cumulative affect of chemicals that run off farmland and blend together to form new, un-trialed, deadly chemical cocktails that are affecting our coral life.

Remember, we are 70 per cent water and we absorb 60 per cent of what we put on our skin. What chemical cocktails are we making in our bodies from our product choices? Do some of our skin sensitivities, allergies, headaches, emotional imbalances or dis-eases really come from our diet and, if so, which diet - oral or topical?


Vitamin A: Beta-carotene
Beta-carotene belongs to a class of substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids not only provide colour to plants, they also provide them with antioxidant protection from free radicals which are formed when exposed to sunlight. Without carotenoids, plant life would be wiped out soon after sunrise.

It appears what carotenoids do for plants they can also do for our skin. These amazingly rich ingredients, some of which originate from micro-algae - itself comprised of layered crystals - have the ability to trap the oil between the leaves. Crystal size ranges from 10 micron to 250 micron. By reducing the crystal size to 35nm it dramatically increases the bio-availability. In a specialised preparation similar to a nano form, the beta-carotene can remain surface-contact active and re-active on the skin. One molecule of this specialised form of beta-carotene can quench 1000 molecules of single oxygen without being destroyed. To put things into perspective, nanotechnology processes employ particles that measure one-billionth of a metre or less.

Bioactive beta-carotene stimulates the immune system's natural defenses and its response to infection. It is readily converted into vitamin A which plays an essential role in growth, regulation of the immune system, maintaining a non-specific host of defenses and stimulating anti-tumor activity. Its cleansing and detoxifying capabilities helps maintain the health and integrity of the skin and mucous membranes.

Vitamin C: Bio-active L-ascorbic Acid
We have formulated L-ascorbic acid into an extremely bio-active preparation to perform specific skin functions. This has prevented the normally rapid oxidisation or deterioration of L-ascorbic acid in its natural state when dissolved in skin care products containing water or exposed to oxygen.

Vitamin C L-ascorbic acid is used to strengthen the capillaries and cell walls and is an essential component of collagen formation. It functions in protein synthesis by changing the charge of iron so that it can be absorbed to work as an exceptional antioxidant. This makes it a highly sought-after ingredient for anti-ageing products.

Sound waves can also be used to help L-ascorbic acid molecules circulate and perform dynamically at a cellular level. The waves move L-ascorbic acid and other vitamins collectively through the skins system, affecting fibroblast skin cells found in the mesoderm, the skin's middle layer. Here the protein and connective material such as collagen and elastin are targeted in combination.

I mention this to broaden both the perception and awareness of the fact that everything affects an ingredient. The molecular structure of an ingredient changes when blended with others, its container, the machines used in conjunction with it - all have an effect. It starts at the source; the condition of the soil, the farming practices employed, the method of harvesting, the distillation process - right through to the choice of packaging used to store it in.

Did you know that every person or company that handles every individual certified organic ingredient on its journey to becoming a finished product on a salon shelf must be audited as a certified organic supplier or producer? While it might seem a painstaking process, it ensures the authenticity of certified organic ingredients and products.

It must be said that even the most active certified organic products can be adulterated by the containers that they reside in. I recommend never wrapping the products or the skin in plastic film; the molecular structure of plastic is highly mobile. Plastics are made by chemically binding monomers (plastic ingredients) into chains to form polymers, which are generally inert and usually in-soluble in food or skin care products.

Some monomers such as bisphenol-A (BPA) is a material made by combining acetone and phenol. Both are petroleum-based chemicals that can migrate into the contents of the containers. BPA is a known endocrine disrupter which means that it can interfere with the hormonal system. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even miniscule amounts of chemicals such as BPA can cause abnormal prostrate development, lowered sperm production, early onset of puberty in females and changes in the breast and pituitary glands in laboratory animals.

As you are probably now aware there are many influencing factors that govern the efficacy of skin care products. It is a journey that must be taken with great respect and responsibility for each step in the entire process.

Glass, inert plastics and environmentally friendly plastics that break down quickly and efficiently after you have used them such as PET 1 (as distinct from 3, 4 etc.) are preferred.

Plastic Containers

PET packaging is preferred for products used in wet areas as they are able to provide an effective barrier against potential UV degradation and resist gas and moisture transmission of the contents.
The following table shows the transmission rate of gas - cc*mm/m3 and water g*mm/m3 per 24 hr at atmospheric pressure.

Oxygen Carbon Dioxide Nitrogen Water
PET (oriented) 2.2 2.6 1.3 0.65
HDPE 85 2.6 20.1 0.8
PP 78.9 284 19 0.76

Most plastics can be recycled, but due to the difficulty in collecting, sorting, cleaning and reprocessing, at present it is only economically viable to recycle three types of plastic from domestic sources. PET 1 is the most environmentally friendly, and the most preferred as a container for oil and crème based products.

Be sure that you understand the true nature of the material that houses your skin care to minimise product contamination. Remember what we rub in, goes in.


Beauty and health care professionals are relied upon to facilitate both treatments and services to help allay the stresses and fulfill the needs of those trusting men and women who visit our spas and salons. Our clients rely faithfully on our skill to administer expertise and provide the ultimate experience, to choose the safest and most effective ingredients to address their beauty and wellness needs.
And their needs rests with the choices we make.

Spa owners and managers too have the onerous task of caring for their dedicated therapists who daily subject their bodies to excessive amounts of products which they inevitably absorb. They rely on the educated judgment of the salon or spa management to provide the best products that carry the least amount of risk to them and their clients. It is our collective responsibility to become more informed about the ingredients that we choose and to dispel compromise from the salon and spa environment for surely now more than ever before our people and planet needs all the help and support we can give.